John Egbert was never the type to wax nostalgic about times long since passed, but he couldn’t help but feel a twinge of that deep, emotional and visceral feeling as he left The Office for the day. He said goodbye to his co-workers, (who didn’t say anything back, because they are quite literally faceless, nameless entities who could be replaced by cardboard cut-outs and the story would not be effected in any way), grabbed his briefcase, and left through the fancy hotel style revolving doors that many large buildings have. He reached up to his neck to loosen his tie and sighed softly. Another long day filing reports, doing conference calls, stapling things to other things, and awkward water cooler small talk. The water cooler small talk always made John extremely uncomfortable because his co-workers, despite not being able to contribute (due to be faceless and nameless) expected John to have conversations, so he would spend 4 or 5 minutes every 2 hours or so talking to himself.
John’s daily performances in front of his fellow co-workers began really innocently. He would joke around, tell his audience about some of his more successful pranks, and try to play off whatever their body language was. This worked for awhile, but eventually the small talk wasn’t enough to satiate the co-workers’ demand for forced small talk. For awhile John defaulted to just mumbling nonsense about Politics or The Weather or good things that have happened in the company recently, but that soon grew boring for both John and his co-workers. Then, John started reading them passages from books, but for some reason the only book in the entire building was a copy of Finnegan’s Wake with every third page torn out. Surprisingly, missing a third of the pages didn’t effect the quality of the book at all, but the co-workers quickly grew weary of that whole mess.
The anxiety that this forced interaction caused John became worse and worse, until one day John finally had an idea. The next day, he walked into work confidently, spent some time filing papers, some time attending conference calls, and some time stapling things together, and he approached the water cooler confidently, with a casual stride in his light, airy steps. He grabbed one of the flimsy paper cones from the tube that dispenses flimsy paper cones and filled it up with about one and half sips of room temperature water – all of the water the flimsy paper cone could hold. His co-workers soon approached him, eagerly awaiting the daily ritual of uncomfortable water cooler chatting up. John smiled his trademark goofy grin, adjusted his glasses, and sipped his water. Since the flimsy paper cone only contained one sip of water, John crumbled the empty cup up and threw it on the ground.
John launched into a bizarre routine that rivals only the greatest yarn-spinners in terms of content, profanity, and work place inappropriateness. The co-workers were obviously uncomfortable, and they left early. John smiled. Another perfectly executed prank. You’ve still got it Egbert.
John chuckled to himself as he rounded the corner, still headed home after a long day. His solution to the water cooler problem may have been unconventional, but it was certainly effective. Today his story was about a particularly raunchy and dangerous version of chess that he claimed was played in the old times. His co-workers left en masse almost immediately, and John was free to spend the remaining 3 minutes of his 4 minute break drinking room temperature water from a flimsy paper cone.
It was a hot day that day, and John’s long walk home seemed all the longer. He had finally made his way out of the meagre down town area and into the suburban surroundings. As was his custom, he jumped in the air to high five the sign that read “NOW EXITING LORDSBURGHS HISTORIC DOWNTOWN”. The sign was nearly 10 feet from the ground, but John always managed to high five it every time he tried.
After a direct but slow walk home, John opened his front door and proceeded straight up into his bedroom. Although he had an entire house to himself now, he really did prefer to spend time in his bedroom. He tossed his briefcase down onto his bed and plopped down into his desk chair. He swivelled around to admire his room’s decorations, which consisted of a single painting of a sleigh bell hung on his blue walls, which were adorned with highly stylized clouds. Some might call his room juvenile, but John called it comforting. John swivelled again to face his desk, and leaned back in his chair, so that he was facing the ceiling. The chair broke (as all chairs that are leaned back in do) and John promptly fell to the floor, making a tremendous racket.
John swore under his breath and climbed up off the floor. He grabbed his phone off his desk and collapsed on his bed. Great, he thought. Now I have to go down to chair depot tomorrow after work! He sighed and absent-mindedly went through his contacts list. He though about calling someone, but he realized he really didn’t have anything to talk to anyone about. He flung his phone to the side and flopped backwards in bed. He let his mind wander lazily for awhile before finally succumbing to sleep.
Dave Strider. Blog Owner. A prestigious yet equally embarrassing title. He stared blankly as his computer screen, which contained a chat window, a blank text document, and a small window in the corner which was playing The Phantom Carriage on mute. He smirked, allowing his normally stone-faced countenance to betray a hint of mirth. Little did the internet at large know, he was preparing perhaps the biggest blogging onslaught in the history of the concept of blogging. He minimized the blank word document and opened his internet browser, which went right to his home page, which was the official online store of Harbor Freight Tools. Dave didn’t know why seeing all this weird useless hardware comforted him so much, but it did.
Just as Dave was navigating to his blogging platform of choice, he heard a sharp knock on his bedroom door. “Yo come on in.”
Dirk walked nonchalantly into the room and sat down on a folding chair next to Dave. “Jesus dude, I don’t know what kind of shit you get up to in here, but it sure is a fucking mess.”
“Listen bro, I’m not sure how much you know about being a wildly popular and successful blog runner, but it’s not an easy life, and it certainly doesn’t leave me any time to do anything as mundane and normal as ‘cleaning my bedroom'”
Dirk chuckled and waved his hand dismissively. “So, Mr. Internet Superstar, what kind of life-changing content are you preparing to unleash on your unsuspecting captive audiences’ feeds?”
Dave turned in his chair and smiled. “Alright so get this. I’m going to start posting about how much I hate ground hogs day. It’s relatable. Who wouldn’t hate ground hogs day? It’s terrible. It’s the one a day a year an entire nation throws the entire development of human civilization out the window to worship a magic fat animal that lives in a hole in the ground.”
Dirk nodded stoically. “Some very valid points, for sure.”
“So I’m going to keep posting about it. Like, I’m going to break the argument against ground hogs day into like, 100 separate posts. I’m just not going to fucking let up on that stupid rodent. What kind of idiot is even afraid of his shadow? I’m going to post stuff all through the night, and as I post of course the complaints will start to evolve, and believe me it’ll be full of colorful use of vocabulary and extended metaphors for the sake of comedy.”
“Sounds good so far bro, but what’s the catch? So far this sounds pretty pedestrian.”
“That’s the fucking kicker my dude. After all night posting things about ground hogs day, people are going to get real tired of it. Like, wouldn’t you get tired of refreshing your dashboard and seeing 50 new posts about how stupid fucking ground hogs day is all night long? I sure as shit know that I would. So I’m going to completely run the joke into the ground until not a single person could find even the tiniest reason to laugh at it anymore.”
Dirk frowned. “Sounds to me like you’re protecting yourself. If no one laughs then you can say ‘that was the point’ and that is that. If you’re terrible on purpose, you’re still terrible dude”
Dave held up his hand. “Hold on here dude I’m almost done, and believe me, once I finish explaining this most grand of fucking jokes, you will be on the floor in stitches. You’ll be in more stitches than that lady who’s friends monkey ripped off her face that one time. Boy that was sure fucked up wasn’t it? You’re heading on over to your friend’s house for a nice cup of coffee or whatever and next thing you know a fucking chimp just goes apeshit on you. Wait, do you think that’s where the term apeshit comes from?”
“You’re stalling, Dave. Tell me about the grand conclusion to your joke.”
“Okay so, after I spent all night running the same stupid joke into the ground, and the whole ‘ground hogs day sucks’ thing well into the territory of being terribly not funny, I’m going to post a very long academic style essay on exactly why being irrationally angry about a stupid holiday in the middle of the summer is actually one of the funniest things imaginable, and why telling the same joke over and over again wasn’t overkill at all, it was just anti-humor.”
Dirk tented his fingers and frowned. “Dave, I’m gonna level with you here. That sounds like perhaps the single most masturbatory and narcissistic thing I’ve ever heard of in my entire life.”
“Yeah exactly that’s why I thought you would like it dude.”
Dirk punched Dave in the arm, and Dave swung back playfully. Dirk tipped back his chair to dodge Dave’s playful assault, which, of course, caused the chair to break, sending Dirk toppling to the floor. Dave laughed so hard he fell out of his own chair, and rolled down next to Dirk. They laid there in silence for a few minutes – a comfortable, brotherly silence – and stared up at the giant clock on Dave’s ceiling.
“You know what though, dude.” Said Dirk, finally breaking the silence. “Ground hogs day really does fucking suck.”
John. Hey John. Joooooooohn.” John rolled over in bed, grunting and making a vague hand gesture towards where the voice was coming from. Vriska frowned impatiently. This boy sure is a heavy sleeper. She prodded him with her finger a few times but he still refused to be stirred. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Vriska reached into her bag and grabbed the book she had come over to show John.
“WAKE UP WAKE UP WAKE UP! ITS TIME TO WAKE UP EGBERT! YOUR HOUSE IS ON FIRE AND YOU WILL DIE UNLESS YOU WAKE UP! YOU IDIOT! GET UP!” She screamed as she assaulted him with the book. John woke with a start and tackled Vriska. The two of them went flying off the bed and crashed into the adjacent wall. John pinned Vriska down and prepared to deliver the most devastating headbutt in the history of accidental fights caused by someone being woken up rudely, but at the last moment he realized it was Vriska. “Oh, it’s just you. I thought something important was going on!”
“We’ve got to stop meeting like this, John.” Vriska said, with a fake flirtatious giggle. John realized he was still on top of her and quickly rolled off of her, sticking in his tongue out in disgust.
“Yeah, you’ve got to stop breaking into my house and attacking me! What’s even your problem anyway?” John brushed himself off and stood up. He helped Vriska up off the floor and the two of them sat down on the bed together. Vriska noticed the broken desk chair in the middle of the room and laughed.
“Wow, wild night John? Who were you roughhousing with last night?”
“Wha- Oh, you mean that stupid chair! I was just sitting in it, minding my own business, and it broke! What a cheap piece of garbage!”
“What are you even complaining about! You’ve got a job, go buy a new one!”
John opened his mouth, ready to argue, but he know there was no point. He sat down on his bed and motioned for Vriska to take a seat next to him. “So, is there a reason you decided to assault me in the middle of a good dream, or are you just a big jerk! Wait, I already know the answer. You’re a big jerk!”
Vriska scoffed. “Actually, there is a reason I came to see you. I wanted to show you this book I found. As much as it pains me to admit it, I can’t quite make heads or tails of it, so for once in my life I have made the tactical decision to swallow my pride and ask for help.”
“And that couldn’t have waited until, you know, I was awake?”
“I tried calling you last night, but you didn’t answer! I must have called you eight times!”
“Thats because my phone was off, loser.”
“You’ve got to stop isolating yourself, John. But that’s a discussion we need to have another time. Take a look at this book.” Vriska handed John the book she was using just a few minutes ago to assault him. It was a rather sad little book, obviously very well worn, with a stained leather bound cover and the text “The Golden Road” on the front in silver font. John turned the book over in his hands a few times before opening it.
The book was bizarre, to say the least. It was rife with grammar and spelling errors, and it seemed to begin mid sentence, with no framing for what was happening or what was going on. The narrative point of view seemed to switch constantly and without any rhyme or reason, and half of the book seemed to be written in a made up language despite no translation being available. The plot seemed impossibly hard to follow and almost non-linear, and the text was interspersed with interference from the author in the form of blurbs which were sometimes footnotes and sometimes facts about certain types of radio signals. John thumbed through the book and saw that it only got worse and worse as it went on, before finally arriving on the last page, which ended mid sentence.
Vriska eagerly awaited John’s response to this odd book, and John sat in silence for a few moments before finally saying “Vriska, what in the world is this thing?”
“I’m not sure! I’ve actually read it cover to cover 8 times and I still don’t really understand what the point of it is.”
“Maybe it doesn’t have a point. Maybe whoever wrote this was just bored, or crazy, or on some kind of drug!”
“No John, that’s aaaaaaaaall wrong! Literature like this? It’s got to mean something. No one would spend so much time writing a such a complex and dense story if it didn’t have some kind of point! I mean, what kind of idiot would spend his free time writing unnecessarily complicated and what I assume is quite self referential garbage if it didn’t even have a point?”
“I dunno Vriska, there are lots of weirdos out there. Better to have them writing dumb useless books than out doing bad things.”
“The first few times I read it, I have to admit that I was in the same wrong camp as you. I thought – wow, this is really bad. It made me regret getting into reading as a hobby in the first place, but the ending! The ending John, it’s perfect. It makes the entire painful slog through the book totally worthwhile!”
“Vriska, the book ends mid-sentence. What could you possibly like about that?”
“It’s the perfect, bizarre exclamation point on what is a captivating yet hard to follow tale! It puts the entire thing into